Benefits of Cloud Party

Image representing Cloud Party as depicted in ...

Image by None via CrunchBase

1. The benefits of using a virtual world app like Cloud Party include ease of access. Most students understand how to access Facebook and download games from there. Also, the cloud based environment is in easy medium because it does not require a download or use of a plugin to use it. Another benefit to using a virtual world app is the ability to read the instructions provided on the site. Sometimes when you download a game, there are not instructions easily available for the user to view and read. Overall, I think that this is a large benefit for students to use, and also to use within the school setting.

2. Cloud Party mimics some other virtual worlds I am used to because we have been utilizing all game based virtual worlds up to this point. Also, Cloud Party incorporates the use of multiplayers within it construct. Up to this point, I have been used to the idea that multiple players can log in to the same place and participate in an activity at the same time.

3. My initial thoughts about this application as a medium in education include: ease of access is great, the use of multiplayer is a great way to include all students into this medium, and it is very similar to the ideas behind the other virtual worlds we have visited in this class so far. If students are able to access a game for educational purposes, and it is easy to find and read instructions, teachers will already be ahead of the game in preparing for instructions within this platform.

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Minecraft as an Educational Tool

The following video and discussion is from a gentleman who has incorporated Minecraft into his school.

His students have gone above and beyond and created amazing features using Mincraft. Not only are students creating but they are learning. While in this game, students are learning how to become entrepreneurs. Each student learns how to sell their valuable goods and at what cost and premium. This concept never occurred to me as a learning tool while using Minecraft.

Another aspect discussed in this video is how students WANT to be in this space interacting with one another. At one point in the video you can see a student asking to become a level up from where he is. He wants to be a specific type of player and is going above what he needs to in order to make that rank. I don’t know about you, but it is rare to have students begging you to learn in any space.

Minecraft seems to have many educational tools to incorporate into the classroom. I think it is a matter of being creative and allowing our students to be creative. Not very often do we allow our students to create. More often then not we try to create something that we think our students need.

What are your thoughts on Minecraft in the classroom?

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Second Life and English

Second Life

Second Life (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For a class in my master’s program, I am to join the virtual world of Second Life. I have created and avatar and joined the classroom space.  Second Life is a space where avatars (people) from around the world can meet and socialize, play, learn, etc.

I can foresee Second Life being incorporated into the English classroom by having students create avatars based on novels read in class. Students could also create a world from history in the novels read. There seems to be countless ideas to incorporating Second Life into the classroom.

One fear I have with using Second Life in the classroom would be students chatting with strangers and possibly finding themselves in trouble because of it. Yes, it is possible to only meet in a designated space during school, but what is to stop them to enter other worlds after school because we introduced them to the virtual world?

What are your thoughts?

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Building Bridges

The following reflection is based on the videos below:

Possibilities from Building Bridges:

There are many possibilities I see from both mobile virtual worlds and gaming virtual worlds bridging into the classroom.

The first possibility I see is visiting places far away. Students would be able to explore the world of Shakespeare in English, the Incan Empire in History, or Parliament in Britain in Political Science. Students are often visual learners. If students had the opportunity to navigate real spaces using an avatar or creation of their own, they would feel a part of that world. Throughout the videos I saw many people laughing and smiling at the experiences they were having. They were so engaged in what was going on around them. This engagement would be wonderful in the classroom.

The second possibility I see is connecting with other classrooms. Students could see in with peers their own age in China. Students could collaborate with one another even though they are far apart. This opens so many possibilities for learning and working with others.

The third possibility I see is learning by doing. Students love to be active. If students were allowed to get up a kick a ball, or an angry bird, as part of class participation, the classroom could evolve into a place of fun and learning.

There are so many possibilities with building bridges with mobile and gaming virtual worlds into the classroom. Keep exploring and sharing the possibilities!

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“Blowing Up the Grade Book”

The following reflection is based on Dr. Haskell’s video: “Blowing Up the Grade Book” which can be seen in the video below:

  • Issues of fairness/equity in curricular design

Make class a game. “The winning condition is always within reach when class is a game.” This is an interesting view on making learning a game. This idea is completely new to me, and I can see the advantage of providing equity to students, and allowing students to choose their quests is a great way to provide that equity.

  • Homework

We can learn whenever and wherever we want and homework shouldn’t be deemed for afterschool hours only. I like the idea that Dr. Haskell mentions that students make their own choices on homework based on a reward system. This is revolutionary in terms of the traditional classroom. The traditional classroom is set up so that students learn what the teacher deems is important.

  • Due dates

Short and long term goals such as rank help students to stay on task in game-based learning. As a teacher, I really like this idea. Constantly having to harp on student to make sure they turn in their work on a specific day gets tiring.

  • Student choice

Students choose the quests they want to complete based on their own interests in the game-based learning. For this to happen, Dr. Haskell states, “Teachers need to be willing to put the tools in the student’s hands.” I love giving students choices in their learning. I think that students learn better and are engaged in their learning when they choose what is important to them.

  • Respond to the speakers ideas about changing the metrics of schools

Dr. Haskell points out that the traditional class is already a game, and teachers punish students when they fail; this makes it impossible for students to be successful. I think that a combination of what Dr. Haskell speaks about and the traditional classroom is more realistic at this point. I don’t think we are going to get 100% of teachers to switch over to this way of thinking. However, I do feel that adding this aspect into teaching is important and should be happening.

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Virtual Worlds/Digital Media and its Impact on Education

Connection two persons

The following discussion is based on the video and research of Dr. Bailenson which can be seen here:

Affects on the Mind or Psychology:

Dr. Bailenson discusses Avatars and the affect of digital media on people, the mind, and psychologically. An avatar is a person you create in an online world, usually in a gaming space. This avatar can be made to look like anything you wish. Dr. Bailenson goes into detail about how an avatar can bring about certain changes. What I took away from his presentation includes:

1. Avatars can change your behavior. I believe this to be true. Sometime people will say or do things that they wouldn’t in the “real” world because they are behind an avatar.

2. Avatars and/or digital media can change your point of view. I think this is also true. Your views points will start to alter based on the amount of time you spend with any activity and people.

Affects on Students:

According to Dr. Bailenson, 8 million people playing Farmville, 12 million people playing World of Warcraft, and kids ages 6-16 years old spend 8 hours a day using digital media. I was blown away by these numbers. In fact, I have a hard time condoning this behavior. 8 hours a day!! When are our students READING?

Dr. Bailenson also discusses that the classroom may change based on the digital media being created. Some positive affects include:

  • Helping those with developmental delays
  • Engaging students in “fun” learning
  • Helping students become active learners

Overall, the future of education seems uncertain to me based on Dr. Bailenson ideas of digital media. On one hand the positive influence of digital media and games seems wonderful, but on the other hand I can’t possibly imagine that 8 hours of digital media is healthy or productive for the mind. What do you think?

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Why Do We Teach?

As the new school year approaches, I always find myself reflecting on the goals I want to achieve with my students. Also, I reflect on why do I teach. Is it to gain self satisfaction, to improve student’s outlook on life? This might be a hard question to answer. What do you think?

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